Descriptions of products and services we buy matter. Things can get confusing even when both the buyer and seller are honest, people can describe things in different ways and it’s not always clear exactly what you’re getting. This applies to SD-WAN services too, where service providers and suppliers offer different services and technologies with the SD-WAN label.
Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a hot topic in the Enterprise IT market. SD-WAN benefits are clear. Organisations can not only save money, but also add value from increasing business agility and worker productivity. But, you’re asking “How can I build a better SD-WAN network?” and “Are there any industrial standards for SD-WAN that I can follow?”
Recent research from Heavy Reading indicates that 76% of 125 surveyed service provider professionals worldwide believe that SD-WAN services certification is “critical” or “important” for accelerating SD-WAN market growth. A lack of universal standard for SD-WAN means that it’s difficult to compare services on real world performance, security and ease of use.
Founded in 2001 as the Metro Ethernet Forum, MEF, is a non-profit international industry consortium, dedicated to adoption of assured services orchestrated across a global ecosystem of automated networks. Working with the industry and users, MEF has developed an SD-WAN service definition standard for an application-aware, over-the-top WAN connectivity service that uses policies to determine how application flows are directed over multiple underlay networks irrespective of the underlay technologies or service providers who deliver them, it’s known simply as MEF SD-WAN 3.0.
The key benefit of SD-WAN standardisation is to help accelerate SD-WAN market growth while improving overall customer experience, by combining the high-speed connection underlay of IP-MPLS, Global Internet Access (GIA) or 5G wireless, etc.
MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification provides a valuable reference baseline for users choosing a service provider in the inevitable confusion of a fast-growing and relatively new market. Standardisation makes it easier for integration to work across multiple types of underlying transport services. In the end, the combination of standardised and orchestrated overlay and underlay services will provide a better customer experience with improved service capabilities and guaranteed resiliency.
The first services were awarded the standard in March 2020, including that of PCCW Global. As the technology develops and adoption increases, it will become increasingly important to work with a vendor who is MEF certified. Put simply, it will help you build a better network and ensure you’re getting what you hoped for.